Alleged Scott Rothstein Ponzi Probe Unfolding Like ASD Case; Forfeiture Proceeding Filed, But No Early Arrest

Federal prosecutors and agents today began the process of seizing assets from Florida attorney Scott Rothstein, amid allegations he had been operating a Ponzi scheme involving hundreds of millions of dollars since 2005.

The early probe is shaping up in largely the same way as the early probe into AdSurfDaily, a Florida business accused last year of operating a $100 million Ponzi scheme.

Rothstein, for example, has not been arrested. Agents from the FBI and IRS seized real estate, boats, cars and bank accounts today. Meanwhile, prosecutors brought a civil-forfeiture case against property tied to the alleged scheme.

Prosecutors used largely the same approach against ASD. ASD President Andy Bowdoin, for example, was not taken into custody when news of the allegations broke. As is the case with Rothstein, the ASD probe began with forfeiture complaints.

Like the ASD case, the government believes others perhaps were involved in the fraud. Unlike  Bowdoin of ASD, however, Rothstein does not appear to be enjoying an early surge of support.

In the context of Ponzi schemes, civil forfeiture helps the government stop potentially massive financial crimes in their tracks, before they can mushroom and consume even more wealth. Investigating Ponzi schemes can be a mammoth undertaking that involves reverse-engineering thousands and thousands of transactions and following global and electronic trails.

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